November 16, 2020
Enhancing RN Workforce in Rural Underserved Areas
With support from the UW School of Nursing (SoN) ‘s Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention (NEPQR) grant (PI: Dr. Zierler) Enhancing Partnerships through Ambulatory Care, first-year BSN students recently participated in an innovative clinical experience offered for the first time. Washington (WA) State currently has a nursing shortage within ambulatory care settings, and the gap is expected to grow even more within rural and medically underserved (R/MU) areas. One of the NEPQR program’s key objectives is to recruit, retain, and graduate BSN students interested in working in ambulatory care, especially those in R/MU settings. To help meet this goal, the NEPQR program, in collaboration with the Western WA Area Health Education Center, developed a longitudinal clinical program for students to experience firsthand rural care delivery at a clinical site in Montesano, WA.
Two UW SoN BSN students were competitively selected for the NEPQR Rural Immersion Clerkship that took place from September 8-25, 2020. Together, they learned about the RN role in rural communities and developed knowledge and skills to deliver ambulatory and team-based care. Students provided supervised nursing care in a rural primary care clinic and a rural correctional facility for approximately 3-weeks while living in the Montesano community.
This unique opportunity allowed students to develop the critical skills needed as health care delivery increasingly shifts to the community. This experience is also providing an opportunity to introduce and motivate students to consider a career in ambulatory care and R/MU communities, which is a growing need in WA State.
Students and preceptors alike had an invaluable experience and look forward to continuing this program. The NEPQR program will offer the Rural Immersion Clerkship every summer and is planning to expand to new sites and increase the number of students accepted to the program.
The Rural Immersion Program in Montesano was a great opportunity to experience life as a rural nurse and get familiar with rural ambulatory nursing. I gained so much hands-on experience and knowledge that prepared me for my first in-person clinical rotations in ambulatory care and especially psychiatry. It was an extremely rewarding, memorable, and unique experience that opened a new nursing path— correctional nursing. I am extremely grateful for being part of the program and for the knowledge and skills I obtained during the clerkship, which I will use in my future nursing career to care for medically underserved populations.
Being a part of the summer rural immersion program at Montesano was a valuable learning experience. I never thought that I would be in jail learning about nursing and that I would end up liking it. I am thankful for all the hands-on experience this clerkship provided me with, as well as the nursing critical thinking skills needed for a rural setting.